Welcome to this special edition of Top of the Plops in which current and ex-staff pick their favourite games or developers from the past year. 2020 has been a year of many up and downs, but it has also brought with it many gems and turds. Let us sift through the excrement as we uncover the Plops of the Year.
Caspius: My Peak of the Plops for 2020 has to be Final Fantasy VII Remake, not so much because it is one of the greatest games I have ever played (it is exceptionally good, but not THE BEST), but because in terms of original releases that are of interest to me, 2020 was a pretty lacklustre year. There were some other really good titles, but they were mostly remasters, not even remakes, of good games from the past, such as Super Mario 3D All-Stars. There was also the release of the excellent Pokemon Shield and Sword DLC, in which I have invested literally hundreds of hours and still counting. But I cannot give my ‘game of the year’ pick to DLC, nor to a selection of old 3D platformers from past Nintendo consoles. My review of Final Fantasy VII Remake gave that game an A-grade, something which I was less assured of then than I am now, with my decision solidified as a result of my slow-burning desire to replay it so soon after having done so, which is something I only feel about games that I really like, such as the truly exceptional Dragon Quest XI. Although Final Fantasy VII Remake did not deliver on the game the way that I would have liked to see it done, and although I think my approach would have been both more respectful to the original material and a better game overall, there is still a great deal to be said for what they have done with the first chapter of their remake: it is an invigorating experience, albeit one that in no way obviates the need for the original. And, perhaps, that is best. For, if they had the made the kind of game that I would have liked, no one would ever have gone back to the original PS1 game–and that would have been a sad state of affairs, to be sure. Onward to 2021!
SiliconNooB: I think I’m going to pick 13 Sentinels, as that was a really amazing game that deserves to be highlighted. This wasn’t an easy pick for me though, as Resident Evil 3 is also a really amazing action game that everyone loves to shit on for not being Resident Evil 2. Persona 5 Royal was also a factor in my calculations. The fact that they (Atlus/Sega) published my game of the year probably also makes them my publisher of the year by extension.
Ethos: 2020 was a great year for me and video games. Many of them connected with me whether they came out this year or I played them for the first time this year. The Final Fantasy VII reimagining (branded as Remake) made more of an impression on me than I expected, but it was really Paper Mario: The Origami King that made the biggest impact. Like many fans, I felt like the series took a sharp downturn after the excellent Super Paper Mario, but The Origami King is a thoughtful, surprising, exciting, and understated masterpiece. The battle and progression systems are a turnoff for some with a mixture of legitimate and illegitimate criticism but its well-paced story and action kept me addicted from front and back. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I got to the credits in the same week I bought it.
Imitanis: It may seem like a cop-out to pick a developer rather than a game, but Atlus have released many of the titles I’ve enjoy this year. Persona 5 Royal, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and Catherine: Full Body. Atlus also published 13 Sentinels, a fantastic Vanillaware title that I still need to put more time into. Of the games Atlus has published this year the Tokyo Mirage Sessions remake would be my favourite. I never bought it on the Wii U, so the Switch edition was my introduction to the game. I enjoy tinkering with game mechanics, and TMS ticked many boxes for me.
Lane: My favorite game of the year was Ghost of Tsushima. It is historically inaccurate, culturally off-base, and very much a Westerner’s fantasy of Japan, but its devotion to the legacy of Kurosawa and chanbara films is earnest. With beautiful visuals, engaging combat, and a real sense of cinematic scope, it is a better Assassin’s Creed than Valhalla and a smarter action adventure game than God of War.
Seb: I have to give my favorite game of 2020 to the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Having low expectations cannot hurt, I suppose, but the game was so much better than I anticipated in every respect. Of course the graphics are outstanding (as is voice acting), but the gameplay – though I am not a fan of action RPGs, personally – was surprisingly addictive. It was mindlessly fun to slash away at the various monsters encountered throughout, and I had to employ some strategy against certain bosses. I do not love all of the changes to the original, and I will not attempt to re-review the game (the official TDT review is excellent), but it arrived at a time when I was confined to the house and provided many hours of enjoyment. (My wife and I ended up playing through it together twice, and I would still play it again when I have the time.)
Mel: Hello again, readers, how have you been these last, um, years? Horrible? Glad to hear it! Now, on to my choice of Plop for putting on the top. Few plops would fit toppest more than Coffee Stain Studios. Responsible for developing the wonderfully supported Early Access title Satisfactory and for publishing Deep Rock Galactic, which has exited Early Access this year, Coffee Stain’s recent catalog has not only provided me many multiplayer hours of fun with my friends (no small feat) but has done so with an open “no-crunch” commitment. Of course, I cannot verify they do not actually crunch. Maybe that is just marketing. Maybe I am an idiot! I will leave you with that to ponder.
Durga: 2020 was not an amazing year for games, unfortunate with so many people spending extra time at home. That being said, there were definitely a couple of standout games that I had extra time to complete, though most were not released this year. The game that I had the best experience this year with was actually Far Cry 5, which came out in 2018. I had skipped the title completely at launch because it looked pretty ridiculous and the series as a whole had felt like it was slipping, but this one renewed my interest in the franchise and has me actually looking forward to the 6th numbered installment. The gameplay wasn’t all that different but the characters were pretty strong, and the story actually ended up being a lot deeper than it had any business being, with an ending that left me questioning things for a few days after completion. I definitely Recommend it to any fans of the open world FPS genre and would say it was my favorite game of the year!
Brock: I do believe my favorite release of this year was the Pokémon SW/SH Expansion Pass. The Isle of Armor expanded on the success of the wild area while giving us many of my favorite Pokémon, some with new Gigantamax forms. The story around Kubfu and training him was fun as well. The better part was of course the Crown Tundra, I so much enjoyed the legendary adventures. Tracking down several legendaries and even being able to catch a mythic in the wild was very well done, and I hope the franchise will expand on that in the future. The beautifully rendered Zones made my experience very immersive. The Max Lairs are more fun than I originally thought they might be and was pleasantly surprised with it. The release of Dragonite, the final missing Pokémon of my favorite six was most welcome as well. I hope everyone enjoys their holiday season. Cheers!
Reetin: Hades is an excellent Roguelike based on Greek Mythology. It has tight controls with a variety of weapons to choose from. The soundtrack is also top-notch as it was created by Supergiant Games which has a track record of good soundtracks in their games. Playing it, as with any other Roguelike I tend to die a lot but, it makes me want to keep going, unlike a Dark Souls game.
Readers, what was you favourite game you played this year? Have any developer outdone themselves? Have any publishers sent us quality goods? Let us know in the comments!